It is an NRI’s tryst with education sharks. It also makes a scathing attack against the alarming dimensions of black money in India. The story seems to tread the path of a Tagore, when the hero starts to investigate the bank accounts and audit details. The subject, or say the message, is not dealt with in totality, but in bits and pieces. The movie has not reached the expectations of the audience, when looked at the overall output of Rajni-Shankar combination. That too for the first time!
Sivaji (Rajnikanth), an NRI from the US, lands up in India for setting up of a donation-free university and a charity hospital. There is lot of dodging in sanctioning the civic permits to his projects. Added to this, his rivals in the field of education create all sorts of troubles in his way. Sivaji comes to know that the entire system is dogged by bribes and black money. India, with about Rs 20,00,000 crores of black money, is not a poor country. His action plan is clear: To get the details of black money hoarded by the government officials and Ministers and then blackmail them to have his share, which he would utilize only for the good of the society.
Adiseshu (Suman), an influential but commercialized educationist, always makes attempts to kill Sivaji and eliminate him. The war between the two hots up and the result is the murder of Sivaji. But a friend of Sivaji (Rajnikanth) comes from the US and takes over Sivaji’s charity foundation, in addition to wreaking vengeance against Adiseshu. He also continues his battle against black money. The question, "Was Sivaji really killed or did he survive the attack to continue his mission?" forms the crux of the story.
Rajnikanth is simply superb in all departments of histrionics. His multiple getups are a major highlight to the film. Director Shankar succeeded in bring out the maximum
from the role of Sivaji. His mannerisms – taking chewing gum into his mouth (the piece so thrown would hit his palm and jumps into his mouth) – is a good watch. The same mannerism is repeated in different types. His getups, particularly as a Caucasian and NTR, are done carefully. The climax getup with tonsured head and stylish beard comes as a surprise. His dialogues and contribution to comedy are a major plus point. In short, Rajnikanth shoulders the entire weight of the film.
Shriya is pretty all through the film. But, she didn’t get any special chance to perform, except for song and dance. The long absence of Shriya from Tollywood, because of providing bulk dates to director Shankar, led everyone to surmise that she would have been given an important role. But, it is not so.
Suman played the main villain. Sporting white dhoti and khaddar shirt, he is shown as the representative of those who find education a lucrative business. Vivek played the role of a friend of Rajni. His comical performance is routine. There is not much scope for Vivek to do much of comedy, as Rajni himself handled it.
Manivannan and Vadivukkarasi played the parents to Rajni. The episodes in which they seek alliance for their son are interesting. Raghuvaran did the role of a heart specialist, but had no direct link with the main story. Nayantara appears in an item song (first song). Her dance is a good watch with lot of hip shakes.
The story runs on a normal note of social service and suddenly takes up focus on the vexed problem of black money in India. The message of director Shankar is clear: expose the factor of black money. Screenplay is good. Comedy scene followed by a serious scene seemed to be the set formula. The first half runs smoothly and the second half runs on a slow note, but for Rajni’s part.There is mixed response to the songs and music by AR Rehman. All the songs are dream songs, each showing Rajni in a new getup. The first song, with more than 2000 junior artistes in the backdrop, is shot richly. Rajni’s steps as NTR, Chiranjeevi and ANR are a good watch. Shankar’s direction is known for grandeur in all segments. Picturisation of songs, costumes and locations are rich.
Comedy is good in parts. Rajni and Vivek combine has caught up with the audience well. However, there is a feel that much is required in this wing. Dialogues are a highlight in the film. Rajni’s mannerism – Cool – said repeatedly is trendy. A couple of one-liners – " Pandulu gumpugaa vasthayi, kaani Simham okkate vasthundi." (Pigs come in groups, but the Lion strikes alone) and " Manam eppudu chasthamo theliste ika jeevitham narakam" (When we come to know when we will die, life becomes a hell) – are good.
Stunts are done with an overdose of graphics. The chase and dash sequence with cars is good, but turns monotonous and sometimes unconvincing. Similarly, the climax fight is visualized in a good symbolic manner. As the hero and villain fight, the currency notes are spilled all over (signifying the hero’s victory over black money). This sequence is shot for too much of a length to have any punch. Graphic work deserves a special mention. Much of this element is limited to aerobics of Rajnikanth in the air when he fights out the baddies. There are two interesting visuals: Blacktopping of roads before Rajni as he walks; and the setting of educational institution as the students walk on the campus.
Generally, there will be lot of importance to sentiment in almost all Rajnikanth’s movies. Here, Shankar seems to have completely ignored this commercial element. The horoscope sentiment and its curious turn are conceived in poor taste. Cinematography is excellent. Production values of AVM are exuberant.